If you have hidradenitis suppurativa, you may be more likely to have lupus or another autoimmune disease. But experts aren’t sure about the actual connection between the two conditions.

The exact cause of hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is unclear, but it’s often linked to autoimmune diseases, such as lupus. Autoimmune diseases occur when your immune system mistakenly damages healthy cells in your body.

HS seems to be more common among people with lupus, but experts aren’t sure about the exact connection between the two.

Here’s a closer look at the potential links between HS, lupus, and other autoimmune diseases.

In a 2022 study involving more than 627 people diagnosed with HS, over 16% had an autoimmune disease — often lupus, psoriasis, or inflammatory bowel disease. The authors note this rate of autoimmune disease is higher than in the larger population.

However, it’s unclear if people with HS have a higher risk of developing lupus or other autoimmune diseases. It’s possible that the two conditions have shared risk factors or that certain medications for autoimmune diseases increase the risk of HS. More research is needed to fully understand the link between the two.

Technically, HS isn’t considered an autoimmune disease, but emerging research may change that.

The same 2022 study mentioned above found that some people with HS have autoantibodies, which are antibodies that attack proteins in your body instead of viruses, bacteria, and other potentially harmful substances.

Autoantibodies are typically associated with autoimmune diseases, leading researchers to theorize there may be an autoimmune mechanism at play with HS. However, the presence of autoantibodies in some people with HS isn’t enough to classify HS as an autoimmune disease.

The authors also point out that both HS and autoimmune diseases are sometimes managed with biologics, a group of treatments that target your immune system’s inflammatory response.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that HS is an autoimmune disease, but it strengthens the theory that there’s some kind of link between HS and autoimmune diseases.

It’s unclear if having HS directly increases your risk of developing lupus. However, you may want to talk with a healthcare professional if you have HS and notice any lupus symptoms. It may be particularly helpful to talk with a rheumatologist, a type of doctor who specializes in inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.

Potential lupus symptoms include:

  • muscle pain
  • joint pain
  • ongoing fever
  • a red, butterfly-shaped rash on your nose and cheeks
  • hair loss
  • mouth sores
  • increased sensitivity to light
  • chest pain
  • anemia
  • dry or inflamed eyes
  • confusion or forgetfulness

Read more about lupus symptoms and how to recognize them.

People with HS are more likely to be diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, such as lupus, than the larger population. While they have a few theories, experts aren’t sure why this happens.

If you have HS and notice new symptoms, such as a facial rash or fever, talk with a rheumatologist or other healthcare professional.